I was home sick yesterday and while I normally would have gotten my yearly fix of daytime trash TV in between naps, it was a bit difficult to focus on the various reality shows and other reruns when they were constantly being interrupted by a cadre of weight loss and other self-improvement commercials. Apparently I am not only fat, but I’m under educated and living an incomplete life because I don’t have the things that look suspiciously like bingo markers to re-stain the grout in my bathroom. Just when I was starting to get over not getting a Snuggie or the meatloaf pan for Christmas. Interesting, that advertisers know that the market is ripe for their message at the beginning of a new year as many of us are fresh off our various resolutions.
One week in from New Years. So how are those resolutions and goals working for you?
That collective groan you thought you just heard was in fact everyone else reading this moaning in the painful reminder that just a mere few days after promising ourselves that we would do both better and do a particular something(s) differently this year, our best of intentions has fallen short yet again. And as the old saying goes “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
Why is it that we get all geared up for something like a new year’s resolution only to 9 times out of 10 fail at it miserably? Like the proverbial lemmings to the sea we keep going back over and over again, you would think we might learn from one year to the next.
The same can be true of our spiritual lives as well. We have the best of intentions and make bold plans so make changes in our lives only to repeatedly fall short. Admit it, have you ever said you were going to read through the Bible only to get to Judges and start looking for creative excuses to skip a day, then a week, then a month… yes I speak from experience. So why it is that in our spiritual lives something that we want to do, we often fail to do. Maybe it’s because we are trying to do it ourselves instead of letting God do it in us.
Even the best intended spiritual goals will fail if we try to accomplish them purely by our own capacity. Just as in our worldly lives we need God’s guidance and help in our spiritual walk. We can’t do it alone. Yet, when we evoke an attitude of humbleness our entire reference changes. Suddenly we are no longer wishing to read the Bible or pray for the nations, or spend one afternoon a week at the soup kitchen because it is something we feel we should do, or because everyone else at church says they are doing it (bet you most of them really are not). When we approach it with our hearts and minds open to God and ask for our time to help us grow and gain a deeper understanding of not only Him, but how we can find a practical daily application to our goal, we flip the switch from “feel we should do” to “want to do” within ourselves.
“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” Philippians 3:15–16 (The Message)
So what are my spiritual goals for this year you ask? Well I’ve got a few and will share them with you as the year goes on. One is to read the entire New Testament this year. I choose the NT because: 1) its shorter 2) it’s far more interesting than the OT and 3) there’s an app for that. The same phone application that I use to push my daily devotions to my phone allows me to follow a reading plan with the assigned readings sent each day as well. Rather than simply rely on my own memory (which is failing) or my own will power (which frankly often sucks) I love having a daily reminder of my commitment. In reality the commitment is far less than you might think, the plan I am following is the Project345 reading plan, so named as on average it take 3 minutes and 45 seconds to read a single New Testament chapter. Hey, even I can stay on track and keep up with the daily readings as they follow a 5 on/2 off pattern so if you miss a day you have time to catch up on the weekends.
With only one week gone of 2012 there is still plenty of time for you to join with me in reading the entire New Testament this year. I’d love to hear from you if you do.